To say that 2020 has been a year like no other is an understatement; isolation, heartache and loss have gripped the global community in a way not seen for generations. Perhaps the only ones smiling are those with an online business, who have been doing a roaring trade, and if it wasn’t for them this bike may never have been finished. Ultra talented man of many skills Peter Chase was stuck in his workshop in Rhode Island, while his client was somewhere out on the ocean on a boat trip without an end in sight. But the internet shrinks the world into a tiny place and soon the Cafe Cycles shop was filling up with parts faster than Peter could fit them. The result is this stunning 1983 Yamaha XV750 that’s going to make one sailer a very happy camper when he finally reaches land.
Based in Little Compton Rhode Island, Cafe Cycles was founded by Peter Chase, a skilled bike builder, metal worker, and artisan, at the beginning of 2008. But prior to setting up shop, his journey has taken him across the US of A, from college studying mechanical engineering, to jobs fabricating and welding everything from cranes to customs homes and finally building off-road race cars, land speed cars and insane rock crawlers for a company in California, where he became especially skilled in aluminium sheet metal fabrication. It means when you walk through the door at Cafe Cycles you’re met by a man who can simply do it all.
Sadly his client had initially gone down the other path, one many of us have been scarred by in the custom bike world. “Last year this 83 Virago was brought to me by a guy who purchased the ‘Cafe’d’ Virago as they say on craigslist, which meant it had some scabby welds on the subframe with a $29.99 eBay cafe seat, and some ‘CNC’ clip-ons if you know what I mean. He Also dropped off a complete Yamaha R6 front end,” Peter explains. In short, it was a mess, a good bike in a bad state, with even worse parts hanging off of it. Being a first mate on a charter yacht the client was leaving for half a year cruise from the North East, to the Caribbean; then at sea Covid hit!
“He was stuck on the boat and I was stuck in my shop. I hadn’t gotten much done on the bike yet, when all of a sudden Motogadget bits and pieces started showing up at the door.” There were gauges, buttons, mirrors and turn signals. Then a set of Cognito Moto rearsets arrived, followed by a Moto Demic headlight and leather grip wrap from Trip Machine! “I guess that’s what happens when you’re bored out of your mind on a boat during quarantine. That’s when I said to myself, ok, this guy wants a really nice bike.” And Peter was more than happy to oblige, stripping the XV down to the frame and first laying out a perfect wiring system for all the new goodies.
The build is not trying to break new ground in a design sense but is executed with quality and attention to detail few manage. The all new subframe is the perfect example, fabricated up and welded to perfection the metal is colour matched to the frame and the rear hoop incorporates an LED light. Over the top, the seat is a combination of comfort and style with Counter Balance Cycles in Providence covering it in relic leather. The stock tank was modified with Peter welding in a flush-mounted filler from Lowbrow Customs and ensuring the metal was dead straight and in perfect condition.
Then it was over to DGB Paintworks who sprayed on the colour and modelled the graphics on a mid 70’s Yamaha RS100. The gold continues on the remote reservoir rear shock, that connects the frame to the repainted swingarm, now with a custom hugger. While at the front that Yamaha R6 set of forks works to full effect in totally transforming the look and handling of the bike. With braided lines running up to the master cylinder, the twin drilled discs and Yamaha calipers bring the old ’83s braking into the 21st century. With the gloss black rims wearing modern rubber that gives the bike the grip to match the new additions.
“I had never worked with a Virago for a custom bike platform but I must say, they are easily customizable,” Peter tells us. Which is evident in the stunning exhaust that he’s fabricated, utilising the V-Twin engine’s layout to build a system that has elements of a modern Ducati, the snaking rear pipe, finishing parallel to the motor hugging front pipe and both exiting out of Cone Engineering mufflers. There is a K&N filter emerging from the right side of the bike, while the rest of the mechanicals are overhauled for flawless operation and are detailed within an inch of their life for an as-new finish.
Peter then worked to mount up the Cognito Moto rearsets, high-quality components that with their positioning give the rider a sporty stance reaching up to the bars. The clip-ons, good ones this time and not eBay specials, wear the leather grip wrap to match the seat and host an array of that Motogadget goodness that had arrived in the mail. Finally, there’s the Motodemic headlight giving a modern take on a classic style to light the way. In uncertain times, and for a man on the open ocean, Peter Chase has delivered the highest quality of cafe racer that the owner will be able to enjoy well into the future when this current pandemic is but a bitter memory. Anyone can claim to have built a custom, but Cafe Cycles do it the way it was always intended to be, sheer perfection.